For years, I have labeled Jaycee as "nonverbal" because she primarily does not use words to communicate. She has signed or used her communication device instead. Nonverbal seemed to best describe her. Her words, which were only a few, were rare occurrences.
But this year, Jaycee has started saying more words. She still doesn't have a large vocabulary by any means but she does say words daily now.
Her current word inventory consists of: mama, dada, bubba, bye-bye, love you, maw-maw (Grandma), papa, high, Paul, hot, up, boom, pie.
She also tries to sing along to songs making her own sounds and can even make some animal noises. This year has been her biggest vocabulary growth. Still, for an almost 9 year old, I would say her expressive language would be equivalent to that of a 15 month old. Her verbal speech is still extremely delayed. Signing and her communication device are still her primary modes of communication.
When I refer to her as "nonverbal" now, it feels inaccurate. People generally think of nonverbal as having absolutely no speech, so they act surprised when Jaycee says anything. Then they give me a puzzled look as to why I call her nonverbal. Maybe it is misleading at this point in her life...
After reading some other professional opinions on how to best describe her, I believe it's time for an official label change. From now on, I will refer to her as "minimally verbal." I think she bets fits this category. She uses speech daily now, although it is still very, very limited.
Maybe just maybe....one day she can upgrade from minimally verbal too!